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We got a lot of clients that search for a state in their query, not a city. We have Google My Business listings in about 30 major and mid size cities for like the past 4 years (did the address verification, etc, before google changed how things work to service area radius.) 9 out of 10 we rank #1 or #2 in the 3-pack for our primary keyword phrase targets and top 3 organic when people use the city names in their search of the cities where our address is. 9 out of 10 of our addresses are mostly residential home business addresses. We use SEMRush to monitor ranking positions. We perform the worst in state name based searches in the 6 main states we are targeting. We don't fair quite as well in state name based searched. More like 3 out of 6 we are in 3-pack or top 3 organic. But this is based on what SEMRush is reporting when we set the search location to a state and not a specific city+state combo.

It appears to me the state based searches rely more heavily on organic ranking factors but it also seems to me they still need to assume a geographic location that the user is searching for and possibly from. It appears for example for California, the results act similar to what results we get if you set your location to Fresno, in the middle of the state.

We of course have state exclusive landing pages with all the correct meta and other markup.

Trying to determine best way to rank higher on state name based searches. #1 thought that comes to mind is expanding State targeted content beyond one landing page and one contact page exclusive to that state which is all we do now. I've not reviewed what is going on with Local Search / Google My Places for a couple years as frankly we have plenty of business, but we are posied to handle another growth spurt and want to improve state keyword based rankings.

Any other tricks/strategies besides adding another state specific content page? And a Facebook Page for each state? Add some YouTube videos targeted for each state?
 

Colan Nielsen

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Trying to determine best way to rank higher on state name based searches. #1 thought that comes to mind is expanding State targeted content beyond one landing page and one contact page exclusive to that state which is all we do now.
That's where I would start. Perform "state" optimization on all core pages, not just the state pages.

And just to clarify, is your focus here the localized organic rankings or local/3-pack?
 

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